Visibility and Accessibility of Indigenous Knowledge on Open Access Institutional Repositories at Universities in Africa

Visibility and Accessibility of Indigenous Knowledge on Open Access Institutional Repositories at Universities in Africa

Mass Tapfuma (National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe & University of KawaZulu-Natal, South Africa) and Ruth Hoskins (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0833-5.ch011
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Much research has been done on Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) at African universities but the results are inaccessible as they remain scattered all over in researchers' offices, yet IK plays a significant role in Africa's development. Universities are better placed to consolidate, preserve, disseminate and facilitate easy access to such knowledge. This chapter explores the role that can be played by Institutional Repositories (IRs) in fulfilling this goal. Literature was reviewed to provide a conceptual overview of the role of IRs, to establish the challenges faced by universities in enabling access to IK in institutional repositories and explore strategies that can be employed to promote their use. The findings revealed that academics have not fully embraced the IR technologies; therefore, librarians struggle to secure content for their IRs. It is recommended that rigorous awareness campaigns on open access and IRs be done by librarians to obtain stakeholder buy-in.
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Statement Of The Problem

The subject of indigenous knowledge (IK) has attracted much interest in academic discourse since the 1980’s in Africa and globally (Odora Hoppers, 2005). There is consensus on the significant role played by IK in the development process, hence the call for harnessing such knowledge through documentation and recording or codification of the knowledge for posterity before its extinction. The development of a country involves problem–solving activities aimed at improving the livelihoods of communities through utilisation of local resources (Sukula, 2006, p. 84). Warren (1991, p. 2) postulates that “development projects cannot offer sustainable solutions to local problems without using local knowledge.” Indigenous knowledge has sustained African local communities economically, socially and spiritually for centuries, and continues to do so (Odora Hoppers, 2005, p. 5). Such knowledge can be used as an alternative or complement to the conventional scientific methods and techniques for sustainable development especially in agriculture, health, leadership and governance, and environmental management. Despite IK being an important resource in sustainable development, such knowledge is undermined, marginalized (Msuya, 2007, p. 4; Odora Hoppers, 2005, p. 8) and highly underutilized in the development process. It is rather unfortunate that developing countries have devised natural resource and environmental management policies that imitate those of the West, disregarding their indigenous knowledge (Sukula, 2006, p. 84). If IK is to be useful in sustainable development of societies in Africa, there is need for such knowledge to be documented, codified, accessed, shared and disseminated.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Scholarly Communication: Consolidation, organisation, reviewing, interpretation, and preservation of information sources, and the publication and dissemination of scholarly output.

Sustainable Development: Development that satisfies current basic needs in light of the needs of the future generations.

Accessibility: The extent to which the expected readership can retrieve information when they require it.

Indigenous Knowledge: Local knowledge that is unique to a particular community or society that has been developed over time.

Institutional Repositories: A university web-based database containing the institution’s intellectual output.

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